Trying to build a capsule wardrobe? These are the 28 essentials you need

Written by Naomi May

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If 2023 is the year of the capsule wardrobe, then make a note – these are officially the 28 wardrobe essentials Britain swears by. 

Should you also be wading through the swamp of winter-ready dressing, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

According to stats recently revealed by digitised wardrobe organising app Whering, 75% of us have items of clothing we ‘swear by’, which we’re able to style and restyle time and time again. In short: these are pieces that have a low cost-to-wear ratio and are worthy of every penny of investment you might consider.

For when the dressing gets tough, the tough get dressing – and that’s where this bumper round-up of the top 28 wardrobe essentials might come in handy as a checklist for your transitional wardrobe. These are the pieces that will see you into each season with ease; fuss-free fashion, if you will. Jeans? Check. Maxi skirt? You betcha. Linen shirt? Absolutely. These are officially Britain’s favourite wardrobe essentials and, if our word is anything to go by, we suggest running to snap them up now before the between-season race to the checkout beings. 

Black jeans

A pair of classic black jeans is a must-have.

There are only a few colourways needed when purchasing jeans that will form the essential backbone of your outfit and one of them is inky black. Perfect for even the most outré of occasions, a pair of solid black jeans will see you through the good, the bad and the downright ugly, while ensuring you look nothing but slick and put-together. 

Stylist’s favourites are Levi’s Baggy Dad jeans, which – trust us – you need in every shade and Weekday’s Voyage straight-legged jeans in its blackest colourway. Your wardrobes can thank us later.

Cosy jumper

Cosy jumpers ought to form the backbone of every wardrobe.

Granted, the virtues of the humble cosy jumper may have been extolled at large, but it’s now officially cemented in the wardrobe essentials hall of fame, thanks to its durability, wearability and versatility. Wear one in summer over a pared-back slip dress for when the sun dips its waist below the horizon and snuggle up in one come winter once the weather starts biting. A win-win.

Maje’s candy-coloured mohair iterations are a favourite of the style set (for obvious reasons), while Marks & Spencer’s affordably priced cashmere jumpers are the stuff of fashion legend.

Levi’s jeans

Classic blue jeans are a no-brainer for every style.

Few, or rather none, do jeans better than Levi’s, the purveyor of the classic biker-style denim that is now revered across the board in fashion. Should you class yourself as something of a denimphobe, then opt for its High Loose jean, which is as ubiquitous in fashion circles as the style itself; more seasoned style-lovers might appreciate the versatility of its re-imagined 501 jean, which is now designed to be floor-sweeping and slouchy. Effortless style done very, very right.

Black turtleneck

Struggling to find a top that works with any and everything? A black turtleneck ought to solve that problem.

In case you’ve resigned your black turtleneck to the deep, dark recesses of your wardrobe, take this as your cue to promote it back to your core circulation of everyday pieces. Granted, in the midst of a heatwave it might not take priority in your sartorial line-up, but as the seasons shift in the coming weeks, there will undoubtedly come a time when it’s more than necessary to insulate your body without scrimping on style.

The best that team Stylist has encountered are Asket’s merino wool numbers and Everlane’s slouchier fitted iterations, both of which are inky knitwear supremos.

Leather jacket

Leather jackets are a timeless accoutrement to even the simplest of outfits.

In the realm of staples that need no introduction lies the leather jacket, which is as cool and relevant today as it’s ever been. The way the style set opt to wear theirs is to size up (by several sizes) and make it as boxy as is physically possible. The best in the game are undoubtedly lying on the rails of your local charity shop or on the virtual shelves of eBay, so grab your foraging wares and head for a rummage of your own.

Oversized jumper

A slouchy XXL jumper works come rain or shine.

Alongside the legion of knitwear you undoubtedly already own, an oversized XXL silhouette ought to also lie among your arsenal. Here’s a jumper that provides all of the snuggliness of their more fitted counterparts without compromising on style at all. The way the style set wear theirs year-round is by pairing with shorts or miniskirts in the warmer months and with equally slouchy jeans once the weather takes a turn.

& Other Stories’ jewel-toned knitted numbers are perfect for an oversized fit, while Matches Fashion’s own brand Raey’s crew-neck sweaters are the ultimate larger-than-life jumper.

Denim jacket

The humble denim jacket has enjoyed a resurgence of popularity.

The humble denim jacket has seen its status revived in recent months thanks to the renaissance of all things 90s and 00s, which has breathed new life into old faithful fashion friends. Throw a denim jacket over the top of a flimsy cotton summer dress or double up with an outfit that comprises two-parts denim and just watch it come to life.

Depop is the home of the best denim jackets this time around, but should you have the patience, have a rummage through your local charity shop for an equally as pre-loved iteration. 

Nike trainers

Nike trainers are a seasonless staple.

In news that will surprise nobody, Nike trainers are still at the top of their game and rightfully so. Providing the perfect combination of comfort and style, their colourful – or pared-back – silhouettes are a faithful among the style set, making the ultimate accoutrement to dresses, jeans, suits – you name it.

The brand’s Air Jordans and Air Force 1s have remained favourites for obvious reasons; they’re as cool as they are comfortable and as easy as they are effortless.

Fitted white T-shirt

Crisp white T-shirts are a basic worth investing in.

Ask any style insider worth their salt what their go-to staple is and they will undoubtedly reply with the same answer: the classic white T-shirt. A favourite during all seasons, the virtues of a crisp white T-shirt are clear: they’re put-together, comfortable and require almost no explaining or additional styling.

The best in the game come by way of Asket and The Frankie Shop, and we recommend stocking up on several iterations to keep your rotation endless. 

Chinos

Chinos are the wardrobe essential you didn’t know you needed, but now you do.

Now that the office is back, officewear has spiked to the top of our style antennae, particularly after the last couple of years have been spent existing almost exclusively in activewear. Keep chinos wide-legged and tailored to the waist, and there’s a fashion friend that will never let you down. 

Stylist’s favourite chinos are Cos’s crisp camel pair and Raey’s linen-blend interpretations, which will keep you cool during the warmer months and warm during the colder months.

Oversized hoodie

An oversized hoodie has graduated from drab to decidedly fab.

Forget relegating your favourite hooded sweatshirts to the bottom of your wardrobes – thanks to the streetwear revival, they’re better than ever. Wear yours with your favourite tapered jeans or juxtapose them against a genteel summer dress; the options are truly endless.

Pangaia is responsible for the style set’s favourite earth-first hoodies, while Anine Bing’s are a regular sighting at fashion weeks.  

Maxi skirt

A maxi skirt is a staple that works for all seasons.

Maxi skirts are once again whipping fashion into a frenzy thanks to their floor-sweeping lengths. Pair with cropped T-shirts for a classic summer silhouette or with a snuggly jumper to stay cosy in style. 

Every season, Jigsaw’s become catnip in style circles, while Musier Paris’ are form-fitting without also being bank-breaking. A win-win in our eyes.

Linen shirt 

A linen shirt is a wardrobe essential for every wardrobe.

Linen shirts, for the uninitiated, are a warm-weather wardrobe staple in their own right. They provide just the right touch of prowess without veering into untethered territory, and are the ultimate accoutrement to dresses, skirts and jeans. In short, they’re the staple you either need to top up on or invest in. 

Our favourites come by way of London label With Nothing Underneath and Whistle’s, which are available in a buffet of almost-edible sorbet shades.

DIY top

Tops that are easy, simple to style and perfect for wearing for DIY are a wardrobe essential.

Now that home renovations and DIY explorations have become mainstream, having a steady stream of DIY-friendly tops to hand is a must. That’s not to say they needn’t be stylish, but more that they ought to be ready to be splattered with paint/varnish/sawdust. Should you rightfully be reluctant to buy box-fresh, try foraging through the discount piles of your local charity shop for unwanted gems. One man’s trash is another’s treasure, after all.

Converse trainers

Converse trainers are a year-round style perennial.

Converse trainers aren’t to be overlooked when analysing wardrobe essentials. Instead, invest in them and wear with your favourite rotation of dresses, jeans, shorts and skirts. These trainers were, in fact, made for walking – and that’s just what they’ll do.

Wrap dress

A wrap dress makes looking put-together decidedly simple.

Nobody wants to have to second-guess the fit of their dress while out and about living their lives; indeed, that’s not what style is for. It’s not for being uncomfortable, quite the opposite. Simply tie and fasten a wrap dress exactly where you want it for a simplistic approach to wearing a dress that will leave the guesswork to somebody else.

A Ganni wrap dress is never, ever a bad idea to invest in, while River Island’s will leave everybody asking where it’s from. 

Checked shirt

A plaid shirt is a timeless classic that can be dressed up or down.

They might have been the preserve of lumberjacks for the longest time, but checked shirts are a wardrobe essential for a reason. Need to find a way to tone down an otherwise OTT ensemble? Throw on a slouchy, fitted shirt to add an effortless touch. Spending the day mooching with friends? All a checked shirt needs is a simple white tank top and jeans to elevate it to a cool-girl put-together get-up. 

Toast’s and Whistles’s take on the humble checked shirts are the perfect entrée to anybody who might be new to the love-in.

Flip-flops

Flip flops are simple, fuss-free and absolutely en vogue.

Stop what you’re doing and make a note: flip-flops, the rubber-soled sandals that have been a summertime staple for the entirety of their existence, are cool again. To avoid any rough and ready sartorial synonyms, wear yours with floaty dresses and skirts to add a tough and effortless edge. Nobody does them better than Havaianas, whose latest collaboration with Christopher Kane’s More Joy is already taking social media by storm. 

Wide-leg trousers

Wide-legged trousers are a no-brainer for each of the four seasons.

The XXL and oversized silhouette of a wide-legged trouser is the only one to embrace and readily invest in this year. These are trousers that require no introduction; they simply add oomph to T-shirts, jumpers and the like.

Danish stalwart Remain Birger Christensen makes the finest – with the biggest flare – while Asos’s silhouettes are similarly oversized in the best way possible.

Nautical-striped top

Forget the classic way of wearing your nautical stripes and instead, adopt a more casual and laid-back approach.

Nautical stripes aren’t dead after all, they’ve merely been reimagined into all manner of different silhouettes and forms. If you’ve been finding the ones you already own a tad on the dull side, try investing in sturdy striped shirts or fitted T-shirts instead to breathe new life into the classic style. 

With Nothing Underneath is responsible for some of the finest nautical shorts in the game, while Uniqlo’s forever-shaped striped T-shirts are a wardrobe no-brainer.

Oversized white T-shirt

It’s not just fitted white T-shirts that ought to line your wardrobe, but oversized ones too.

It’s not all about the fitted white T-shirt; every style insider knows how virtuous a slouchy-shaped T-shirt can be too, and there are few colourways you need it in more than white. Perfect for wearing with jeans, shorts, skirts and everything in between, a fitted T-shirt is as much of a necessity as an oversized one, which will leave all the more room for copious amounts of cocktail drinking and canape nibbling, should you be out somewhere smart. The Frankie Shop’s crisp oversized white T-shirts are one of the fashion realm’s worst-kept secrets.

Above-the-knee shorts

Above-the-knee shorts are the ultimate summer style staple.

Bermuda shorts, which fall just under the knee, might be having a moment, but it’s those of vertiginous heights that are fully coming into their own this year. At the recent Copenhagen Fashion Week, shorts were spotted across the Danish city in all manner of styles, with the one takeaway being that the shorter your shorts, the better. Should you be in the market for some pin-flashing short action, Re-Done is responsible for the best short shorts in the game.

Baseball cap 

It’s not a wardrobe without a hat, really, is it?

Not just one for the sports fans, baseball caps take centre stage on the heads of the fashion-forward, and it’s little wonder why. These are hats that add a touch of pared-back prowess to even the most ‘done’ of outfits, meaning you can leave your hair minimal and dishevelled and your outfit existing in a similar state.

If you’re really looking to channel the American WAG energy, look to a New York Yankees cap, which has to be top of the style pops on the other side of the pond; if your approach is more fashion, Anine Bing’s are simple but will suitably scratch the itch. 

Denim skirt

Denim skirts are once again cool and catnip for the style set.

Forget everything you thought you knew: the humble denim skirt has been resurrected from the retro grave and bought back into the mainstream, albeit longer and more streamlined than they’ve been before. The denim skirts that the style set are fawning over this time around are midi, slitted and proffered in a true blue hue. New to the denim skirt game? Try Monki or Ganni for a simple denim skirt that will leave you wondering why you’ve relied solely upon your jeans for so long. 

Shacket

A shacket is a style all-rounder.

For the days when your outfit requires a jacket but it’s just too hot to wear one, look to embrace a shacket instead. The shirt-jacket hybrid has gained popularity in recent years thanks to its ease and effortless nature – the sort that, quite literally, requires you to simply throw on and go.

H&M and Pangaia’s shackets have been spotted out and about and make the ultimate plus-one to all of your transitional upcoming events. 

Floral skirt

Floral skirts add a touch of oomph to an otherwise pared-back outfit.

While once rendered glib, floral skirts are having yet another moment and, if you think about it, it’s little wonder why. These are skirts that provide just a touch of something different, without detracting from the main ingredient of an outfit. Spice up with minimal sandals or a statement handbag for optimal appeal.

The best floral skirts available today are Rixo’s, and Mango’s are purse-friendly but no less picture-perfect.  

Tank top 

The white tank top is the staple that will never let you down.

Forget the Plain White Tee, this summer it’s all about the Plain White Tank. Style insiders have been wearing theirs with boyfriend-style workwear trousers and slouchy jeans to juxtapose the fitted silhouette of the tank, which has been received to rapturous applause in the industry.

The style set’s favourite is the Loewe plain white tank top, but you could do far worse than invest in one of Weekday’s cult Stella tanks, which do the job just as well too.

Puffer coat 

A puffer coat is the perfect accoutrement to cold weather ensembles.

Warm and cosy might not be the two feelings you’re looking to sartorially channel during the balmy month of August, but make no mistake: the Big Chill is coming – so be prepared. A puffer coat combines just the right dose of cool with cosiness, which means you can snuggle up in style all winter long.  

Images: Getty

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